jump to navigation

Travel and Expense Policy – part one February 12, 2011

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Business Improvement, Increase Profitability, Procurement, Travel Policy.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I have had quite a few requests for a travel and expense policy. Before I go into the philosophy and nuts and bolts, let me make a few comments.

First, most companies have severely curtailed travel, both for internal group meetings as well as attendance at training, seminars, and supplier visits. I am actually glad that a good number of these trips have been curtailed. With communication mechanisms like Apple iChat, Skype, Webex, Go-to-Meeting and other low-cost, highly effective tools, the goals and accomplishments of an in-person trip can be achieved without an unnecessary hit on the pocketbook. Why send three people to the same training? Send one and have him/her train the others – or film the training and put it into your training library for future hires.

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario: A few years ago a IT executive wanted to send two of his personnel to make a presentation at an overseas conference. I challenged the $10,000 cost of the trip (which probably cost more than $15,000 if you count the loss of two IT resources for 10 days) for three reasons. 1) If you are invited to present, the body sponsoring the presentation should have covered the cost; 2) the virtual communication technology available at the time could have easily have achieved the goal; 3) the economy was showing signs of decline and it would send a negative message to the rest of the company (besides being fiscally irresponsible). I was told that this presentation was not only prestigious for the company but it would also serve as a reward for the employees. Actually, the company did issue a press release, however, both employees left the company before the year was out. There was no measurable ROI or any direct benefits to the company. Anyway, I lost the argument but would still make the same plea today.

Enough pontificating, let us talk about what you want to accomplish with a good travel and expense policy.

First, create some goals and objectives for your policy:

1) To fairly compensate the traveler and provide for his/her safety and comfort away from home
2) To ensure company resources are managed responsibly, ethically and legally and minimize costs when possible
3) To ensure consistency in travel administration, yet provide reasonable flexibility
4) When in doubt, use common sense.
5) Apply the same rules to everyone regardless of position.
6) The traveler should neither lose nor gain financially as a result of business travel

Think about these and let me know if I left anything out – I will follow up shortly with more on this in Part II.

Yours in Supply Chain,

Steve

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

If you have a topic of interest you would like me to discuss in our blog, “in-person”, or see a typo, just send me a comment or email me directly. I would like to hear from you!

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy

Advertisements

The Savings Corner – Part I – Cleaning up Janitorial Spend April 5, 2010

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Increase Profitability, Procurement, Savings Corner.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I have received more than a three dozen requests from executives who want to know how to drive instant or (near instant) savings for their company’s bottom line. 40% have come from CFO’s, and the rest from President’s and CEO’s. The Savings Corner will detail lowest prevailing pricing for a variety of commodities. And not just for Fortune 1000 businesses but for businesses from 10 to 100 employees.

Let’s start with an easy one, janitorial. First, don’t fall into a trap by signing up with a pure janitorial company. They have no way for them to take a small 10-15% profit without going out of business. Sure, they will razzle dazzle you with their “cleaning systems” that mount on the wall and their claims that their products will clean 40% more than the household equivalent. Besides, most of the cleaning systems that I have experienced over the years have a proprietary mount that will only allow that company’s product to be used with it – locking you into an overpriced solution. Best practices disallow proprietary solutions unless there is a huge (and I mean HUGE) benefit for your company – Let it be said now that any company that fails to use a universal dispensing system should be hustled away from the negotiating table.

Many of your other suppliers have drifted into the janitorial supplies arena because of the enormous profit potential. A good example of this is your Office Supplies vendor. Oftentimes, you can leverage the office supply store by requiring them to sell janitorial products at 10% over cost – or you take the entire block of business elsewhere.

And now for a secret. The single best place for janitorial supplies is not Walmart or Sams or Costco – it is your local dollar store – Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Dollar Store, etc. – Where else can you pick up 21oz of Comet for a buck – which is half the price of Amazon or Staples. And they have a wide breadth of cleaners, mopping agents and the like The key to buying these supplies is to have your procurement specialist do it once a month, write a number on each product (with a Sharpie) and have your cleaning staff perform a daily inventory. Don’t forget to invest five dollars for a hasp and padlock.

Incidentally, requiring a daily or regular inventory (not only for cleaning supplies) deters shrinkage – thieves usually take advantage of a place that is operationally sloppy – if they know you are watching, they will choose an easier target.

Annual savings for a small company averages more than $1500 annually including the monthly staff time for picking up the cleaning supplies. For larger companies, it makes sense to look at outsourcing the janitorial function – one company that I audited had the in-house staff emptying office trash cans three times a day just so they could appear busy. I favor limited outsourcing, making the employees responsible for keeping their desk, kitchen and common areas clean and using the janitorial service for dusting, mopping and zone cleaning.

Steve Gordon specializes in procurement and logistics cost saving initiatives – call him today at 865.356.3575

Steve

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

Solutions is happy to complete a complimentary audit of your firm’s expeditures. Just call or write to get started.

If you want to know how to save money on a particular commodity, just send me a comment or email me directly. I would like to hear from you!

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy

Travel and Expense Policy – part two February 25, 2010

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Increase Profitability, Travel Policy.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

With the goals and objectives mentioned in Part I, let’s begin.

Common Sense: If it can be accomplished via video conference, then don’t fly. For example, many IT courses are available via e-learning instead of a flight. Spouses and other non-employee travel with a company employee should not be allowed due to abuse and liability.

Budgets: Travel should be budgeted in advance. I recommend $400 domestic airfare, $1500 international airfare, $100 domestic/$200 international per hotel day, $100 for taxi and $50-$75 per day for meals with a maximum of a 15% tip. One employee may pay for additional employees of the company if it is more convenient.
Here’s a hint: Use the Radisson and Holiday Inn instead of the Hilton or the Hyatt. With that being said, there will be some variance for not booking 14 days in advance and for execs who insist on flying business or first class.

Hotel Amenities: No hotel amenities will be reimbursed so don’t use the honor snack bar. The exception would be internet service for those travelers that do not have a wireless internet card, dry cleaning for stays exceeding five days and one ten-minute phone call per evening if the traveler does not have a company issued or reimbursed cell phone. Room service is discouraged unless there is a good business purpose.

Approval: There should be a hierarchial system in place for travel approval but it should only be for exceptions as follows:
1) Not booking more than 14 days in advance
2) Out of budget request
3) Flying business class or greater
4) Person booking is not a supervisor, manager, director etc.
5) Not specifying a specific business purpose – there should always be some type of ROI for the company when someone travels
6) Not using a preferred vendor

Reimbursements: All travel expenses should be submitted for reimbursement within ten (10) days of return. The IRS limit is 120 days but what we have found is the longer someone waits, the greater chance of loss of receipts. Original receipts are required for all reimbursement and this means the detailed receipt (not the receipt that only shows the total). For example, a receipt must have the date of purchase, the vendor name, an itemized list and unit price of the purchased items and the total amount.
This eliminates liquor, multiple entrees and other non-deductibles from being reimbursed. For convenience, I would issue frequent travelers – four or more trips per year an American Express card. Amex has great electronic record keeping and if you migrate to a full-blown travel and expense package, you can easily integrate their data. Finally, approval of reimbursement should NOT be done by a supervisor or department head. Better to let accounting or procurement sign off – they are less likely to let unauthorized purchases slip through the cracks as they are more objective in their review. Infrequent travelers may require corporate booking of their transportation and hotel. We designated a person in procurement and accounting to take care of these folks who might undergo a hardship if they had to use their own funds to prepay.

Conferences: There is no reason to really stay in the conference hotel if more reasonable accommodations are a couple of miles away. The organized traveler should be able to plan his/her day in advance to avoid any inconvenience.

Saturday stay over: If savings for a Saturday stay over (when not required) are greater than the hotel and meal allowance for an extra day, the traveler may choose to stay over on Saturday.

Cancellations: Must be reported to accounting or procurement and the ticket put in the company “bank” for future travel. Cancellations should require the approval of a division vice-president or greater to dissuade abuse.

Rental Cars: Rental cars are approved on a trip by trip basis. For instance, a conference usually would not require a rental car. But a trip to meet with suppliers and factory tours may require a rental car. Rentals should be non-luxury, economy or mid-size cars from an approved supplier.

Domestic Travel: Travel under 250 miles should be accomplished by vehicle as the costs in time traveling to the airport, delays in airport travel, taxis and other factors make this type of travel cost more cost effective. Air travelers should be responsible for packing their bag appropriately within weight and girth limits. Additional bags for stays less than five days are the responsibility of the traveler. Non-stop travel is preferred, however, if a connecting flight within four hours is available and the difference is $200 or more than a non-stop, the traveler would be required to take one connecting flight. All flights under five hours in duration much be flown “coach”.

Think about these tips and let me know if I left anything out – I will follow up shortly with more on this in Part III.

Yours in Supply Chain,

Steve

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

If you have a topic of interest you would like me to discuss in our blog, “in-person”, or see a typo, just send me a comment or email me directly. I would like to hear from you!

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy

How to Manage the Barrage of New Suppliers Knocking at Your Door January 1, 2010

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability, Procurement.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I receive hundreds of solicitations “to buy” every week. Some are directed to me, others are forwarded to me by clients. The amount of time required to answer phone, cell and email solicitations is significant. Fortunately, the solution to this barrage requires little in the way of resources and time. I implemented this idea in several engagements and in each case it was monumental in payback. Try this method and save hundreds of staff hours each year.

Every Tuesday, we institute “Open Vendor Day”. Actually, we put aside one or two hours depending on response and had a procurement staff member (we rotate between everyone in the department) conduct five minute meetings with potential suppliers. The format was simple and was given out to the suppliers in advance so that they would not be caught off guard. This technique was conducted on an “in-person” or “conference call” basis depending on the supplier’s location.

Here is what we ask:

1) What products/services do you sell?
2) What is your company’s competitive advantage (i.e. what can you do that others can’t or won’t)?
3) How is this going to benefit my company – what’s in it for me? (i.e. streamline process, cost savings or avoidance, value add, etc.)
4) We expect a proof-of-concept or a “try before we buy” before we will do business with any new supplier and we prefer a transparent relationship – do you have the resources and willingness to do this.
5) Provide us a price list of services and recommendations from other satisfied clients.

Yes, there are a lot of other great procurement/purchasing questions, but we really wanted to keep the meetings short and productive. This is why we sent the questions out before the meeting along with the assigned call-in time. While we could have sent the questions via e-mail, I have found that personal communication is important to gauge the knowledge, sincerity, and culture of the supplier, and it is key for relationship building which, as you know, is the cornerstone of all successful supplier relationships.

Call-in times were actually scheduled 10 minutes apart to allow for time overages and note-taking.

Suppliers that survived this gauntlet would then be invited back for a more in-depth discussion with the appropriate category buyer. It should also be noted that suppliers love this idea. Oftentimes, new suppliers have no way to reach a decision-maker in your company. On more than one occasion, we were able to speak to suppliers who had been previously blocked and whose services we desperately needed – a true win-win.

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

If you have a topic of interest you would like me to discuss in our blog, “in-person”, or see a typo, just send me a comment or email me directly. I would like to hear from you!

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy

How you can make your company more profitable! [Part 1] June 18, 2009

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Business Improvement, Increase Profitability.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Everyone wants to reduce costs and expenses. Here are some self-help steps that you can do yourself (for free!) – perfect in these tough economic times.

In a recent Linked-in poll, we asked companies, “What is the best example of wasteful spending at your company?”
Two-thirds of the Linked-In respondents answered, “the wrong person in charge”.
If you think of who buys goods and services or approves expenses at your company, how can you tell if they are doing a great job?

The best way is to ask questions….
1) Are they frugal?
2) Do they bid out goods and services?
3) Do they partner with suppliers?
4) Are they on the lookout for new suppliers and new ways to accomplish processes?
5) Do they negotiate with suppliers?
6) Are they strong enough to say no to bad purchasing ideas?

If they are not taking advantage of some or all of these protocols, you have just identified several ways to help your business get on the right track.

We have interviewed department heads who are in charge of ordering. Most tell us they are “too busy” to shop around. Oftentimes, there is an administrative assistant in charge of procurement who lacks the ability to properly specify what is needed and does not posses the ability properly evaluate suppliers and their offerings.

We have also found wasteful spending occuring by employee(s) who are funneling business to a supplier that oftentimes takes them golfing, or treats them at restaurants or clubs.

This is not an exhaustive list and most businesses would be shocked to hear many of the stories that I have encountered.

Most bad purchasing methodologies can be traced to poor or no training and oftentimes, senior executives forget that spend management is a science, has to be learned and has a specific rule set that one should follow to make sure that your company is being taken care of in the best way possible.

The Second most popular item in our Linked-in survey was insufficient internal controls. Spending company money should not be easy and should have a multi-level approval process that ties in with the company budget for that particular spend. Additionally, there needs to be a responsible party who reports to the CFO, COO or CEO. This person must be accountable for the smart and efficient spend of company funds. This person should have the ability and authority to discuss and question all company spend, make sure there is adherence to budgets and oversee requests for budget overruns.

Finally, there needs to be a strong audit committee. Lack of internal controls have led to abuses that occurred not only at Enron but also at companies of all sizes – oftentimes causing catastrophic damage to the company.

I hope these “self-help” ideas have been useful. And if you have a particular situation that you would like to discuss, I would be glad to take your phone call or answer your email.

Steve
costavoidance.org
 

 

Solutions Business Consultants are specialists in cutting costs and expenses without sacrificing employees™. We take an enlightened look at a company’s spend and create innovative cost savings methodologies which bring money to your bottom line!